The Gift of Presence

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. James 1:19, NIV

This time of year tends to be exceptionally hectic with end-of-quarter and end-of-semester deadlines rapidly approaching and holiday programs and concerts filling both your school and personal calendars. The pressure to complete everything immediately combined with the belief that you have to handle it all, may make you want to escape to your room, lock the door, and focus solely on your own tasks.

But picture this: You’re in the middle of grading 40 papers on a Thursday, aiming to avoid bringing work home on Friday. Despite planning to do this all week, unforeseen distractions kept arising. With 30 minutes left before you need to head home, you settle in with music playing softly in the background. Suddenly, there’s a knock at the door, and it opens with those three words you’d rather not hear right now…”Got a minute?

It’s a colleague who seldom interrupts, bothers, or asks questions and they want to talk with you for a few minutes. They typically appear composed. But today, you detect a hint of sadness in their voice and pain in their eyes. Recognizing this as a unique circumstance, you stop working and listen. During this time, they share their worries about the upcoming holidays, feelings of failure following a student’s meltdown, fears about an impending evaluation, and doubts about their calling in life. They leave your room feeling encouraged simply because one of their colleagues was willing to listen.

Amidst the pressures of completing tasks during this season, consider giving someone the genuine gift of your presence. Not the frazzled, multitasking version of yourself with no time to spare, but the version of you that puts the pen down and truly listens. You might discover that the greatest gift you can offer is simply being there for someone when they need it the most.

SavED by Grace

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One Response

  1. Thank you Ed Tooley for this message that inspired the blog post this week.

    On a Friday afternoon, the usual upbeat atmosphere took a somber turn when Robert entered the faculty room visibly distressed. His year had been a series of challenges, and he contemplated quitting during Christmas vacation. A seasoned teacher, Keith, patiently listened as Robert poured out his struggles with classroom management—a common hurdle for many educators.

    Keith, known for his wisdom, was quick to ask about Robert’s classroom guidelines and discipline procedures, realizing the absence of a robust plan. Offering a simple, yet effective system, Keith pledged to share detailed information via email. Unbeknownst to him, this encounter proved to be transformative.

    Implementing Keith’s advice, Robert returned on Monday with a newfound structure for his class. Over time, his situation improved significantly. Notably, Robert, now the chairperson of his department, continued teaching.

    This true story demonstrates the impactful role mentorship plays in an educator’s journey. Keith’s attentive listening and guidance not only salvaged a challenging situation but also changed the trajectory of a fellow teacher’s career. It can also serve as a reminder that a timely and supportive word can be akin to “apples of gold in pictures of silver,” as described in Proverbs 25:11.

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